British Shorthair Cat History
It is said the Phoenicians were the first to introduce domestic cats to Britain, but the Romans who were given credit for their widespread establishment of the cats when they captured the British Isles about 2,000 years ago.
As the Romans conquered and colonized other countries, cats were brought with them as a way to control rodent populations and to serve as companions. When the Romans left the Isles, the cats they had brought with them remained, firmly entranched in the granaries and alleys of Britain.
Dangerous times were ahead for the British Shorthair Cat. This breed of cat survived through a very ugly period beginning around the middle of the thirteenth century. Religious sects killed cats for an alleged link with the devil. Mass purges were held where cats were rounded up and destroyed.
Ritualistic ceremonies were held to symbolize casting out evil by the slaughtering of cats. What people do in the name of "religion" is sometimes disgusting.
After the persecution ended, people kept cats mainly for their rodent catching prowess not as cherised, pampered companions. The cats mainly were found in Great Britain's alleys, gardens, barns, households and pubs, earning their keep as the perfect mousetraps.
Conditions changed for the British Shorthair Cat in the 1800s. Harrison Weir, a renowned author and considered the father of the cat fancy, was the first to see the British shorthair in a greater role than that of the common household mouser.
Later the Shorthair was crossbred with Persian cats to improve the thickness of their coat. The breed was defined in the 19th century and British Shorthairs were shown at the Crystal Palace of London in 1871, marking the beginning of the modern day cat fancy and marked the Brit's rise in popularity.
By the end of the nineteenth century, owning purebred cats become a status symbol and British Shorthair Cat was respected and prized.
Solid blue Brits, called the British blue, were particularly popular then as they are today. The British Shorthair Cat became an officially acknowledged breed by 1889.
The popularity of the breed declined by the 1940s. The cats popularity faded as cat fanciers turned to the exotic longhairs, the Persian and Angora. Two world wars further diminished both numbers and enthusiasm for Britain's own breed of cat. At the end of the second world war, the British shorthairs were on the endangered species list.
Only the crossbreeding of the few remaining Brits to other breeds as the Persian, Russian blue, Burmese and Chartreux saved the breed from extinction. Since the end of World War II, breeding programs have intensified and the British Shorthair Cat has regained great popularity.
British shorthairs have been imported into North America since the early 1900s, but American cat fanciers were not interested in the breed until the 1960s. In 1967, the American Cat Association was the first organization to grant championship status under the name British blue.
The Cat Fanciers' Association gained championship status in 1980 under the guise of British Shorthair Cat and is known by all North American associations today.
In 2001, the Brit ranked 18th out of the 40 breeds CFA recognizes according to the breed registration totals.
This cat has been the most popular breed of cat registered by the UK's Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) since 2001, when it overtook the Persian breed.
The British Shorthair is a large, compact, powerful cat with a broad, strong chest. The legs on the British Shorthair Cat are quite thick to hold up their heavily muscled body. Due to its bulk and muscle, this type of cat is often referred to as the bulldog of the cat world.
The large head is round and set on a short, sturdy neck. The face has round underlying bone structure, and the muzzle and chin are well-developed. Medium-sized ears are set well apart, fitting into the contour of the head.
Their eyes stand out a lot and tend to be large, round and set widely apart and may have a variety of colors. The copper or gold eyes of the British blue are the best known and the broad nose has a gentle dip in profile.
Full cheeks and large, well-rounded whisker pads give the cat a perpetual smile. The tail tends to be plush, not fluffy, that ends in a round or blunt tip. The Brit's coat is plush, likened to a deep pile carpet. A thick undercoat makes the fur stand away from the body.
The fur, to the touch, feels like firm, warm velvet, prompting fanciers to dub Brits the teddy bears of the cat realm.
The density of the coat changes as the seasons change with the greatest density occurring in the winter months. As a person might surmize, overall impression of the cat is one of being round. Brits mature very slowly, reaching their physical peak at about five years.
The males of this breed are much larger than the females, and the size difference between them is more easily noticed compared to other breeds. The males' average weight is 5-10 kilograms, 11 to 22 pounds, whereas a female would weigh up to 5–7 kg, 11 to 15 pounds.
As prevelent in other breeds, adult males may also develop prominent cheek jowls that distinguish them from their female counterparts. The average life span of these cats is 15-18 years, many live past that age.
A British Shorthair Cat can be bred in many colors. For years, the more popular blue variant was common enough to have a breed name of its own: the "British Blue". It remains one of the most popular colors in the breed.
Now there are large varieties of color and pattern variants accepted by most feline governing bodies and associations. Colors include black, blue, white, red, cream, chocolate, lilac, cinnamon and fawn.
British Shorthairs can be bred in "self" or "solid", which are all one color, as well as the colorpoint, tabby, shaded and bicolor patterns. Colors and patterns also come in the tortoiseshell pattern, a combination of red and cream.
The British Shorthair Cat an easygoing type of cat. Their character is a stable nature anf they do well to being a stay at home indoor only cats. This makes them ideal for apartment living. They are not very demanding to receive attention and they will let their owner know if they feel like playing. (Like most cats)
They enjoy mouse type or stick type toys. Not a hyperactive or in your face cat, preferring to sit close to their owners, not on them. They might supervise household comings and goings from a lofty perch or at times on the floor.
British Shorthairs are wonderful cats for people who work outside the home. They are content to simply laze around the house while their owner is out. They are not destructive or need the companionship of other animals for company, yet they do enjoy having another British Shorthair or a cat with similar temperament around.
They like attention and enjoy being petted. They are not a very vocal breed but will meow to communicate with their owners. Usually when they are hungry and their food is being prepared They may meow at their favorite toy as they play with it.
The British Shorthair Catlike to follow people from room to room, wanting the company their owner and satisfy their curiosity as to what is going on.
Some may not mind being cuddled, but generally most prefer to keep four paws on the ground and be patted rather than picked up.
This cat has become a favorite of animal trainers because of its nature and intelligence. Recently these cats have appeared in Hollywood movies and television commercials. They learn small tricks spontaneously.
British Shorthairs do not require a very much grooming as their fur does not tangle or mat easily. Having a dense undercoat, a good once a week combing for five to ten minutes with a good quality steel comb is recommended.
Breeders recommend daily grooming during the spring and fall shedding seasons to keep the shorthair looking beautiful and avoid a blanket of hair on everything a person owns.
The biggest concern is they may develop hairballs at this time. Bathing is not needed unless the cat is to shown. British Shorthairs can be prone to obesity when desexed or kept indoors, so care should be taken with their diet.
A pet quality cat generally costs $400 to $600. Breeder/show quality costs between $800 and $1,500. Maybe more or less depending upon the breeder, bloodline, location, gender, color and pattern. As their numbers are limited, most Brits are sold through waiting lists.
Parting thought: British Shorthairs are placid, tolerant, docile and respectful. They are a rather quiet cat and in fact are very quiet and can cope with being alone without fretting. They are not inclined to wander. They love children and get along extremely well with dogs